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Lions Roar : May 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2007 26 find a lot of people like that here in the West—people who are profoundly cynical and who have no imagination. Often they don’t read anything at all. They just watch TV and do their jobs. What gives sense to living is some sort of faith—religious, romantic, or political—and faith can’t be had through reason. What kind of religious faith do you have? I am not particularly denominational. I think all religions are try- ing to approach the same mystery and that there are different reli- gions for the same reason that there are different cuisines. There’s Chinese food, there’s Italian and Mexican. They all feed the stom- ach, just in different ways. What I find interesting, though, is that religions always tell stories. Religions always have characters and the characters tell tales. Both the Buddha and Jesus, for example, taught by telling stories or parables. So that’s what’s interesting about people with religious faith—they interpret life through a story. When people believe in a particular religion, everything comes to them through the story of that religion. That story be- comes the tool they use to make sense of the world. Could you tell me a bit about your yoga practice? It’s sort of dwindled now because I’ve been so busy, but I did yoga for years. I used to do an hour and a half every day. I started with Shivananda yoga and then I started doing Iyengar and ashtanga. That was one thing that lost me. I had too many gurus and I started picking and choosing from the different practices, which is a good way to get lost. That’s how the ego starts to swell. But I love yoga. Yoga is one of the greatest discoveries of my life. Are you planning to get back into it? I’d love to. One problem with getting back into it, though, is that yoga is not just an exercise. It’s a whole way of life, one that doesn’t fit into our capitalist society because it’s not considered productive. Yogic breathing, pranayama, for example—what use does our society have for that? If your lifestyle is typical of a Western person—getting up and working nine hours a day—it’s hard to fit yoga into your life. The same thing is true with medi- tation; it’s hard to work in, but we’ve got to try. How did your volunteer work at a palliative care unit change the way you live? It was transformative. We tend to live in a society that is in denial of death. Most of us are not religious, so we don’t encounter the religious allegories and metaphors of death. We live longer and longer and we die in hospitals. So we live very far from death, which we think makes us happier, but living like that makes us forget to value life. It’s the very fact that life will end that makes us value it, and not waste it with frivolity. What palliative care did to me was blow away a lot of triviality. It’s hard to be frivolous after you spend time with people who are dying. After that you tend to naturally focus on things that are important. ♦ Stop kidding around. Get serious with your practice! Earth-friendly furniture for meditation and daily life. Zafu, zabuton, smile, peace bench, yoga stuff, sleeping pillows, inflatable zafu, E-newsletter. www.zafu.net Free brochure 1-888-267-5366 to learn more about this ad see: www.zafu.net/about-the-ad.html